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International Women's Day commemorates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide, with the goal of helping women gain full and equal participation in global development. In observing the day, the Jamaica Observer sat down with Stanley Motta Limited's (SML) all-female board of directors — the first of its kind in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
The real estate company achieved net profit of $282 million for the financial year ended December 31, 2019, and a total income of $419 million due to the 100 per cent occupancy of all rentable space for the full year. It was also recently approved for Special Economic Zone status.
Being the largest business process outsourcing facility in the English-speaking Caribbean, 58 Half-Way-Tree boasts five buildings with more than 230,000 square feet of office space for business processing outsourcing companies and other technology-based companies, along with associated services like health care and food and beverage.
Led by chief executive officer of SML Melanie Subratie, the board comprised seven professionals specialising in a range of fields including law, banking and finance, and business.
The other members of the board are Minna Israel, special advisor to the vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Mona; Sandra Glasgow, founder and managing director of BizTactics Limited; Patricia Duncan Sutherland, executive director of operations at JMM; Blondell Walker, ICT director of Musson Group; and attorneys-at-law Jennifer Scott and Andrea Kinach.
The following questions posed by Sunday Finance to SML's board sought to gain insight from these influential women in business.
1. Do you think there's still a glass ceiling for women in business? (If yes, how do you think women can shatter the glass?; and if no, why do you think there is no longer one?)
GLASGOW — There is no doubt that the glass ceiling exists — women face obstacles that men don't. Many of the barriers are cultural and institutional, for example, women are significantly under-represented in boardrooms and are often relegated to middle and senior management positions. But some of the limitations that women face are internally generated — they don't dream big enough.
KINACH — I think that there are good options in Jamaica for women who want to succeed in business. As an attorney I think that there are also many inspiring examples of women who have achieved success, or are working hard towards it.
ISRAEL — While more women are assuming CEO roles, male domination at the board level is entrenched, confirming that the glass ceiling has not been shattered. Amidst the challenges and oftentimes failure of work-life balance, most of the women leaders are sponsored by men who see beyond gender — selecting the right 'person' for the job. I join more developed countries in advocating for quotas (50/50) on boards.
WALKER — I do not believe that there is still a glass ceiling. Over the past years women have been entering the work world with an increased drive and commitment which is exactly what corporate needs. I think as women we need to continue our approach in being assertive and conquering with confident personalities that take the “bull by the horn”.
2. What does it mean to you to be a woman in a leadership position?
SUBRATIE —It means that I can show my three daughters that it is possible, and that as a result, if this is what they want, they can be in a leadership position in whatever field they so choose. I also believe it gives me the opportunity to give a hand-up to other women and support them in their own roles. We should lead by example, and lead to help others establish themselves also.
SCOTT —Ideally, it should be irrelevant whether leaders are men or women, but somehow it does seem to make a difference. I do not believe that I am particularly a leader or that I bring anything to my job other than a skill set which is gender neutral. My legal documents are not feminine! However, it would seem from multiple studies that encouraging more women into leadership positions remains critical. Skills that come easily to women, such as determination, attention to detail, multitasking and measured thinking are vital for long-term strategic vision and community-building.
DUNCAN SUTHERLAND —As a woman I have had to be courageous and have clear expectations of myself and my partner to counter the expectations of society and my role as wife and mother vis-a-vis work. In the board-room it requires a high level of confidence to shift the dynamic and listening between men and women. As a person it is awesome to be given the opportunity to lead and add value to others!
— Compiled by Abbion RobinsonSHARE THIS:
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